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This past Friday Tributosaurus did the entire White Album live (well, with one exception, to be explained in a bit) — and what a show! Say what you will about this being the “tension album,” or about editing it down to one disc, a la George Martin’s recommendation (and we have on this blog, oh we have), but this is an amazing set of songs.
A few observations about the show:
- As with “Sgt. Pepper’s” and “Magical Mystery Tour,” it’s revelatory to see how many people are required onstage to recreate some of the recordings. It’s a visual key to the overdubbing, and additional musicians, many of the White Album songs employ.
- “Ob-la-di, Ob-la-da” got people dancing in the aisles!
- The guitar solo on “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” is even more astounding live. (Yes, even without Eric Clapton playing it.)
- Favorite bit of stageplay in the show: Chris Neville demonstrating the harpsichord sound he was about to unloose for “Piggies” by playing the keyboard part from “Touch Me” by the Doors — and having the whole band, and the crowd, spontaneously join in for a couple of minutes. (RIP Ray Manzarek.)
- The whole audience sang along (softly) during “Blackbird.”
- “Goodnight” was surreal, featuring Tributosaurus’ drummer, Dan Leali, singing in a top hat.
- “Dear Prudence” gets better every time I hear it.
Finally, “Revolution 9” was the biggest buzzkill I have ever experienced at a live show. The band pointed out that the song is an example of musique concrete and thus can’t really be recreated, so they played the recording. Makes sense, but man how the energy drained from the room (along with phalanxes of people heading for the restrooms). It’s striking that this is the one song in the Beatles catalog that can defeat a live performance. I have to confess that I’ve never liked it (though I have, intermittently, felt that I should respect it) and this experience helped me understand my antipathy.
Thanks for the review. It was a fabulous show. Other big highlights were “Mother Nature’s Son”, “Helter Skelter”, “Glass Onion”, and “Savoy Truffle”. There were little flubs here and there, but there was so much magic that it didn’t matter. With regards to “Revolution 9”, what could they do? It’s IMPOSSIBLE to perform a track filled with tape loops. I’m glad it was played over the PA. It’s still as creepy as ever. No buzz kill for me. “Sexy Sadie” was the biggest letdown IMO. Something was lacking from their performance on that one.
Anon, thanks for the comment. I don’t at all blame the band for playing the recording of “Revolution 9,” I just felt it let the air out of the show in a way that demonstrates the song’s disconnection from live performance.
I should have mentioned Steve Frisbie as another highlight of the show: he was amazing on “Helter Skelter” in particular. His stage presence, power, and range make him a great fit for the rockers, and he’s got the high notes for McCartney’s ballads as well. Wish the band had had him sing “I Will,” for that reason.
Phish did the White Album live circa 1995 (it’s on the bootleg “Unsurpassed White Album”), including a version (all vocal, I believe) of “Revolution 9.” Perfect judgment on their part–it didn’t replicate every sound, and lasted about three minutes less than the recording, just long enough to not become boring.
Every time I listen to the White Album I enjoy “Revolution 9”. I can just picture John messing with the tapes, recording off the radio or whatever. I actually think it has movements, like a symphony. It has always been a mysterious cut to my ears, and these days seems to denote how long ago the ’60s were.